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Toronto FC defender Nick Hagglund heads the ball against the Philadelphia Union during the second half at Talen Energy Stadium. (Bill Streicher/USA Today Sports)
Toronto FC defender Nick Hagglund heads the ball against the Philadelphia Union during the second half at Talen Energy Stadium. (Bill Streicher/USA Today Sports)

Toronto FC defender Nick Hagglund rewarded with contract extension Add to ...

Toronto FC has rewarded defender Nick Hagglund with a new contract and signed Finnish centre back Johan Brunell.

In recent months, Toronto has rewritten contracts for Hagglund, goalkeeper Clint Irwin and forward Tosaint Ricketts to keep them in the fold long-term.

Hagglund’s new, improved deal replaces the current contract and includes longer term.

The 24-year-old Hagglund, in his fourth year with the club, starts on the left side of coach Greg Vanney’s three-man backline.

At US$63,000 last season, according to MLS Players Union salary figures, Hagglund was a bargain. The new deal also serves as a vote of confidence given the off-season arrival of French-born Conoglese defender Chris Mavinga.

“Nick has established himself as a very reliable defender in MLS,” Toronto GM Tim Bezbatchenko said in a statement. “We have watched his continual growth both as a player and person since being drafted in 2014. He is an important part of our club and someone that has stepped up whenever or wherever he has been needed.

“We are pleased to give him this well-deserved extension and ensure he remains part of Toronto FC.”

The 25-year-old Brunell joined Toronto FC as a trialist ahead of pre-season camp in Los Angles. The six-foot-three centre back played most recently for FF Jaro, where he made a combined 101 appearances with five goals in five seasons in the Finnish first and second divisions.

Toronto took Hagglund 10th overall in the first round of the 2014 MLS SuperDraft. He has made 69 appearances in all competitions for Toronto with three goals and six assists. Hagglund played in all six of Toronto’s playoff matches last season.

At six foot one and 193 pounds, he is a force to be reckoned with — especially in the air. A centre back and occasional right fullback in the past, the Ohio native has also worked hard on his left foot, to fit in on the left side of defence.

Brunell was scouted at a Mexican combine, which had come to his attention via some of his teammates in Finland. He will provide backup to Drew Moor, Eriq Zavaleta, Hagglund and Mavinga.

Brandon Aubrey, Toronto’s first-round pick in the 2017 SuperDraft, has been training with Toronto FC 2 recently.

The Brunell signing brings Toronto’s first-team roster to 26. Forward Ben Spencer and rookie wingback Oyvind Alseth are expected to round out the roster at 28.

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